Going by the number of sporting leagues in the country today and their popularity, especially the IPL and ISL, it is no wonder that sports is a lucrative business to be in. However, a big revenue stream that remains untapped is licensing and merchandising (L&M). Already a huge addition to the revenue kitty for the clubs and associations in the West, we are yet to explore its full potential in India. Jiggy George, founder and CEO, Dream Theatre and India head for Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association (LIMA), reveals, “Globally, the sports licensing market at the retail level is estimated to be at $25.3 billion, contributing 9.6% to the total licensing pie, as per LIMA’s 2016 annual report. The Indian licensing business is estimated to be $1,200 million in terms of retail sales. Sports should be at least $300 million.” Sports properties (licensors) are identifying licensing and merchandising as an important stream for revenue generation and brand awareness.
While players like NBA (National Basketball Association) have tied up with Jabong for an e-store, others like WWE, FIFA etc eye partnerships to increase their retail touch-points across the country. Besides the revenue, sports licensing is also a tactile connect of fans with their sporting heroes and teams. Pointing towards a huge market, Casey Collins, EVP, consumer products, WWE, says, “Branded consumer products is a significant part of the overall WWE brand experience. Licensing is a $1-billion business for WWE globally with significant growth year-on-year.”
At almost 90%, cricket and football are the only significant contributors to the licensing industry, feel experts; and basketball, tennis and kabaddi contribute the rest. Interestingly, NBA (American basketball league) is building a strong licensing programme in India. Yannick Colaco, VP and MD, NBA India, says, “A handful of fans get to watch the matches live, so this is a great means of engagement. In India, sales are growing at 50-70% every year, with higher density and purchasing power in metros.”
A case in point: NBA’s recent association with Jack & Jones, wherein it launched a capsule collection offering contemporary styles with functional sporty vibes. The brand further invited famous basketball player Kenneth Faried to one of its flagship stores in Gurgaon to interact with fans. The merchandise included jeans with patchwork and badges, shirts with vintage chain stitch detail, crew neck tees, sweatshirts, knit shorts, pyjamas, socks and boxers.